If there was any question of the increased interest that the role of the art market plays in the economy, look no further than the recently developed Art Market Confidence Indicator maintained by a London-based group called ArtTactic.
From their website:
ArtTactic was set up by Anders Petterson in 2001 as a response to increasing interest for responsive and dynamic art market research and commentary. ArtTactic has developed methodologies and analytical frameworks for the art market often used by economists and people in the financial markets. By combining both qualitative and quantitative research tools with an in-depth knowledge of how the art market works, ArtTactic is giving art market analysis a new dimension.
Sounds like a good thing to measure… until I saw how their Art Market Confidence Indicator is calculated. Apparently, the Confidence Indicator (developed in May 2005) is based on the "opinions of a small group of carefully selected ‘insiders’ (the sample is currently around 160 individuals)." The insiders are collectors, auction houses, advisors and other art professionals.
So, 160 art insiders are surveyed, and this is supposed to give me insight into the future direction of the art market? Seriously? And these folks want us to buy their reports? I think I’ll pass on their numbers and graphs.
Wouldn’t it be better to survey a wider audience? You know, people who are on the actual front lines of the art market, like real artists, gallery owners, museum development personnel, government types, etc. Maybe then we could get a good measure of the sentiment in the art market as a whole.